Friday, July 1, 2011

I cry for you Kashmiris

In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.

"Do not spy on one another,
nor let any of you backbite others..." (Hujurat 49:12)

KASHMIR is said to be the 'Paradise on Earth'. During my visit to India recently, I had a golden opportunity to 'taste' life in this 'paradise'. Of course mesmerizing fresh air, towering mountains, lush green meadows, mystical blue-green lakes, exquisite food and handicrafts, countless flora and fauna and Kashmir's enchanting four seasons offer true colours of Earth, but somehow the presence of Indian soldiers and police (one Kashmiri told me their total exceeding one million) almost everywhere, spoilt the holidaying spirit in me.

Before I proceed with reports on my experience in the Indian controlled Kashmir, let us have a brief look about the history of the Kashmiris including the most controversial political acts of the twentieth century when this wealthy and priced land was handed over to India in 1947.

Kalhana’s ‘Rajtarangini’ written in the 11th century is the earliest record available on the history of Kashmir. According to Kalhana, Gonanda came to the throne of Kashmir about 2448 BC. His descendants ruled for many centuries. King Ashoka conquered Kashmir in 250 BC and made Srinagar the capital of his empire.

The first century AD saw the arrival of Kushan dynasty. Emperor Kanishka organised the 3rd council of Buddhists at Harwan. From the Karakota dynasty, the great ruler Lalitaditya Muktapida is mentioned as ruler in the 8th century.

The 9th century witnessed the rule of Utpal dynasty that produced the great ruler Avanti Verman during whose reign Avantipur was the capital. In the 10th century, the Lohara dynasty ruled in Kashmir. The 11th century saw the rule King Harsha, a poet and lover of art and music. The 12th century witnessed the rule of King Jaisimha. In the 13th century, Kashmir witnessed upheavals, mutual quarrels and civil wars that weakened the Hindu rule.

Though Islam was earlier spread by the famous ‘wali’ (saint) Bulbul Shah, it was in mid-14th century that Muslim rule started with Shah Mir’s arrival from Central Asia. The arrival of great Islamic preacher Syed Ali Hamdani (Shah Hamdan) from Persia during the rule of Sultan Qutab-ud-din (AD 1395) witnessed wide- spread development of Islam in the Valley of Kashmir.

The Sultan was succeeded by his son Sultan Sikandar. He was followed by son Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin (AD 1421-1474), an exceptionally peaceful ruler. He was reputed for being enlightened and restructuring Kashmir and was deservedly surnamed as ‘Budshah’ (The Great King).

In 16th century, ‘Chaks’ gained power. Yousuf Khan, commonly known as ‘Yousuf Shahi Chak’, ruled in 1580. He fell in love and married a peasant woman, Haba Khaton, the famous poetess of Kashmir. His son Yakub Khan took over the reins in AD 1582.

After consolidating the Mughal Empire in northern India, Emperor Akbar’s forces conquered Kashmir in AD 1586. The Mughal rule lasted for 166 years. The Afghans ruled Kashmir from 1756 to 1818. In the 19th century Sikh ruled Kashmir, who further installed Dogras as the rulers. On16th March 1846, Raja Ghulab Singh secured the sovereignty of Kashmir from the British under the Treaty of Amritsar.

In 1947 when India became independent, Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir annexed Kashmir into the Indian Dominion. – From various sources.

Now let us look the modern day conflict in Kashmir. A newly created state derived from the independence of India, Pakistan protested the annexation of Kashmir and calls for a referendum that would allow the people of Jammu and Kashmir to decide whether they would rather accede to India or the new state. The conflict in Kashmir is one of the bitterest legacies of the partition of India.

Over half a century later, there is no sign of an end to this dense and complicated dispute. A series of wars (India and Pakistan were at war three times, two of them on Kashmir) and ongoing guerrilla operations have ensured that Jammu and Kashmir has remained one of the most volatile and bloody regions of the world. Further demands and new conflicts have added twisted complications to an argument that has not been resolved.

Pakistan has frequently sought outside intervention to resolve issues pertaining to Kashmir, but India vehemently opposes such involvement. The people of Kashmir were for a referendum, preferably run by United Nations but India opposed it while the whole world including the umbrella for Muslims, Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) remains silent.

Last October, Indian soldiers stormed the village of Maloora near Srinagar, killed several people they claimed were militants and then used force to crush the people’s uprising. More than 68,000 people, most of them civilians, have been killed in Kashmir since fighting began in earnest in 1989.

Why the world is silent on the suffering of the people of Indian Kashmir (total population about 8 million) who is 95 percent Muslim? Was it because they were Muslims; if they were not, those in power including the UN would rush to help?

Just, look at a recent history. East Timor (now known as Timor Leste) got liberated and so did Southern Sudan. There are other examples too; civilised world has no problem using its powers and influences to give them independence but not in the cases of Kashmir, Southern Thailand, Southern Philippines, Xinjiang, Chechnya and of course Palestine!

Since I fear for the safety of those who I had interviewed during my stay in Kashmir, I would not be mentioning their names, jobs and places they stayed or work. I rather quote what they had said and wished for.

* ‘A’ who looked too old for his age of 45 said: “Please, the people of Kashmir want the UN to run a referendum; I am very sure almost 100 percent of the people want an independence state of Kashmir. We do not want to be in Pakistan or in India.”

* ‘B’ who looked too matured for his age of 26, said: “We are jailed in our own country. There are over a million of Indian soldiers here. I believe there are too many spies and traitors around. Please, don’t speak too loud.”

* ‘C’ claimed that Kashmiri women were suppressed. They were not free to move around with the heavy presence of the Indian army and police personnel. Many were restricted to their homes.

* ‘D’ said that the presence of a large number of dogs in his area (and throughout Kashmir) made in difficult for them to go to masjids for prayers and for shopkeepers to open their shops. He claimed it was against government laws to shove away dogs what’s more to kill them. So scenes of fat and lazy dogs sleeping on road pavements and in front of shop lots are common in Srinagar.

* ‘E’ claimed that the number of Kashmiri pilgrims to Makkah was restricted to a few thousands only from an overall application of more than 30,000 yearly.

Almost all of those interviewed hoped the writer would tell and spread their plight to Muslims brothers worldwide to create awareness and at the same time pray for their struggle and future. Many Kashmiris look too old for their age; perhaps their sufferings and hard way of living has taken its toil; I cry for you, the people of Kashmir.

And for Muslims remember this: “All Muslims are as one body. If a man complains of pain in his head, his whole body feels the pain, and if his eye pains his whole body feels the pain.”

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